News & Media

Kelly Ryan Blog: Connecting Capitals – Incourage is ready for the next century

Tue. Oct 21, 2014

This week, as I join my peers from across the world at the Council on Foundations (COF) annual conference, we celebrate an industry milestone. In 1914, the first community foundation was established in Cleveland, Ohio. Now, a century later it is clear that the community foundation field is changing as much as the people we serve and the places in which we operate. Yet, how many community foundations, committed to change as they may be, are truly ready for the next century?

Incourage, with more than a decade invested in shaping a new economy, is on the path forward in a very bold way. Today, we’ve become more than a community foundation. Engaging residents in a participatory culture, while leveraging financial and intellectual resources from beyond our place, we’ve become a community development organization as well. And as we hold our neighbors in trust, they too trust that all we do is in furtherance of a community that works well for all people. Guided by our values of equity, inclusion and opportunity we are moving vision to action, starting from within.

Earlier this year, Incourage began taking critical but uncharted steps to connecting each of our capitals – financial, human, intellectual and reputational – in furtherance of a new economy and a community that works well for all. Yesterday, our intentional and forward-facing decision to connect capitals was validated during Ambassador James Joseph’s comments in the COF’s opening plenary.

“The foundation with the most impact in the second century may well be those that integrate into their operating plans, into their goals and into their strategies, the use of at least five forms of capital at their disposal,” shared Mr. Joseph. He further expressed a need for, “an integrated use of social, moral, intellectual, reputational and of course financial capital.”

By no means has Incourage fully realized a connected capitals model. But we are well on our way to becoming one in 2015. As we continue this bold but necessary evolution, we invite our peers in the community foundation field to learn from us. Learn from our successes as well as our possible failures. For it is in taking risks like this one, that failure sometimes occurs. But, as F.B. Heron Foundation President Clara Miller has so eloquently stated before, “The world has changed and so must we.”

Incourage is ready for the next century. Are you?


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  • About Incourage

    Established in rural Wisconsin in 1994 to serve the changing needs of the south Wood County area, Incourage has become a nationally-recognized leader in place-based philanthropy and community development. Guided by values of equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship, Incourage envisions a community that works well for all people. One physical manifestation of this vision is the redevelopment of the Tribune building, which demonstrates Incourage’s user-centered approach to growing a strong and inclusive local economy.